The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Ainan's first days at HELP University

This week has been a happy one. I have known the happiness of a father seeing his son, happier than he has long been.

After his first day, in class, at HELP University College (Tuesday, 5th January 2009), Ainan came home looking quite upbeat.

"What did you think of your first day?", I asked, hoping for a positive answer.

Ainan paused and looked a little distant, for a moment.

"Nine...", he began, slowly, "Point Five...out of ten."

It was my turn to be upbeat, for that was a very high mark from Ainan.

Before I could ask it, he answered the question I would have posed.

"The classes were much better than anything I have known in school before."

"That's you like it?"

He just nodded, in his minimal way, in which a little gesture, is worth an entire, never uttered, conversation.

This may seem like a subdued exchange but by Ainan's standards, this was a jubilant display. Never have I known him to be so pleased about an educational experience. For him, formal education has always been a disappointment, except for practical classes, in Chemistry. Other than that, he had always found it a matter of personal excruciation.

Long term readers will recall Ainan's incredible disappointment, after his first day in school, in Singapore, several years ago. He returned, very long faced and utterly dejected, at the experience: he had expected so much more, he had expected to LEARN things - but, in Singapore, learning wasn't on the table - the challenge was aimed rather low, for him. They were asking him to do things he had learnt to do a lifetime ago.

So, to understand how pleased I am at Ainan's response to HELP University College, you should hold those two images in your mind: Ainan's utter dejection at his first day in a Singaporean school - and his quiet elation at his first day at HELP University. The former school, he would have rated ZERO out of ten; the latter he rated at 9.5 out of 10. For me, this is likely to be the highlight of my year (well, it would be difficult to top, anyway). You see, it confirms for me what I had long known, in my heart: that if Ainan is given an educational challenge more on his level, that he will come alive and enjoy it. That is, after all, what I tried to tell the Singaporean education system (which consists of people who have ever-moving mouths, but no ears).

I was right. Giving Ainan a more meaty intellectual task, has made him happy. For the FIRST time in his life, he considers school a worthwhile experience.

Thank you, HELP University College, for allowing Ainan to know happiness in his education...and thank you, Malaysia, for being, so far, what Singapore is not. That, by the way, can only be a good thing.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:08 PM 


Blogger Shuumi said...


10:58 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Shuumi.

11:41 PM  
Anonymous syaza n.s said...

im malaysian.still a student and currently taking med in egypt..ainan do inspired me..keep blogging great stuff..cant wait for more new post.btw,congrats !

2:30 AM  
Anonymous truth said...

hi there, last! so, wut's the plan after HELP uni for ainan? I'm so happy for him. Wish him best of luck
{{big hug}} for him


9:40 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Good luck with your medical degree..and thanks for your congratulations, Syaza.

9:48 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi there, Truth...we are already looking for the next step, for him, but nothing is firm, yet. So I can't say just now. However, be assured, that we are already trying to make arrangments.

"At last"...just how I felt. It has been a LONG time in the organizing.

Best wishes

9:51 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks for the hug, for Ainan...

9:51 AM  
Anonymous William said...

Hi Valentine,
Congradulations to ainan!
I was wondering if Ainan's credits from Singapore Polytechnic will transfer towards his degree at HELP. I also read somewhere that HELP was hiring you as a psychology researcher- is that true?

7:45 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Hi, you have asked a good question. Yes, I was wondering about transfer of credits, too...but SP have gone very and strangely silent since his mentor, Dr. Ng Kok Chin, fell into a coma. So, I am not sure that they will be at all helpful...though it would be decent if they were.

Yes. I am to be a psychology researcher there, at HELP. They have the largest psychology faculty in South East Asia. So, it is a good choice, all round.

8:54 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your congratulations William, by the way.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was a WONDERFUL story!! I'm very happy for you and Ainan.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your enthusiasm. Yes it is a WONDERFUL story. We are very happy.

Best wishes to you.

11:27 PM  
Blogger meraroll said...

ainan my idol :]
mera :]

7:58 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you, Mera.

8:13 PM  
Anonymous mieyra92 said...

hi, i am mieyra92. i want to give my suggestion to u bout your son ainan. i think of him being an architect is a great thing coz architecture has art skill, science skill, physics skill, chemistry skill, environmental skill and many more. your child could explore more with architecture field. your child could be a creative boy. ainan is a very hyperactive think about it. i know that u have other good things to him but this is just my suggestion. who knows that ainan could be a very succesful architect. my parents are an architect so they know more about architecture than me coz they suggest me to write my suggestion to u. so thats all. thanks to u to hear my suggestion.

2:18 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks Mieyra for the suggstion. Actually, Ainan IS interested in Architecture - he is particularly keen on tall buildings and has been following them - and drawing them/making them - since he was about six years old. So, maybe he will be an architect (among other things, I would guess).

Pass my thanks to your parents for the suggestion.

9:34 AM  

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